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Chen G

How do people actually use these ultra minimalist keyboards?

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I got one of those 60% ones with blank keys to get a taste of the hype, while it looks really cool, it's just overall frustrating to use because the lack of keys.

Even simple things like not having a volume knob is annoying, obviously there's combination keys for volume but pressing a key repeatedly is never a good way to adjust volume, plus the finger acrobatics.

There is of course no numpad either which is terrible for when I have to use a calculator or something, or even just trainers for games, I know some of them allow you to use the number row instead but then those may conflict with in-game controls.

While I can handle a full blank keyboard, a non-standard board with invisible secondary functions is just so inconvenient, because sometimes I need to change settings like swap win and alt, but I can't remember how it's done cuz it's not written anywhere and there's no UI to do it either.

The worst part is with hotkeys in applications that are already combination keys, now you just have to press one more modifier, sounds fun right? From simple stuff like alt+F4 is now three keys with two modifiers on either side of the space bar. To complicated ones like alt+tab+delete, just the mental gymnastics of trying to figure out which keys to press is a challenge never mind actually doing it.

On top of that, you've got just a lack of keys like PrtScr, so what key do I use for screenshot? You can't use any of the function keys because that might conflict with the game, so you need a modifier and function key, again we've got a double modifier situation. 

Last but not least, you've got combinations that are for some reason impossible to pull of period. The one I have can't do Ctrl+~, because ~ is fn+Esc, and Crtl+Esc ios Win, so whenever I try to do Ctrl+~ it brings up the start menu.

 

Now I am sure some of these problems you can simply get used to it, but the problem is these keyboards aren't standard so if you get used to one of them, you still can't use anything else, or even the standard keyboard everyone else have. It's like learning an alternate keyboard layout, sure it may be very slightly faster in theory, but why would anyone bother to do that when it makes you unable to use the standard keyboard? At some point it's just not worth the investment. Even just at home I have a laptop for work and a desktop for gaming, what do I do? Get two of these 40% keyboards one for each computer? Not that I even want to use an external keyboard for my laptop because I like the built-in one and it lets me use the track pad instead of needing a mouse.

 

I just don't see how one would do it, unless maybe you have one computer for everything and you're always on it, never having to use anything else for significant amount of time, then it might make sense to try to learn one of these ultra minimalist keyboards, even then what for? So your desk can look more minimalist? Like yea I really get it these things are incredibly cool, I like them and I like putting them on my desk just to take photos, but the're just not very utilitarian.

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Some people don't need to adjust their volume with their keyboard, they have a seaprate audio interface or use their mouse.

Some people don't need to use their computer's calculator often.

Some people don't need to take screenshots with print screen or they use a separate peice of software with a different key.

 

It's not hard to imagine plenty of scenarios where someone would be fine with a smaller keyboard.

Maybe not you.


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That's what happens when you remove as many keys as possible from a keyboard while not being completely unusable to anyone. Maybe it's not enough keys for you then


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You logic boggles me. You bought a smaller keyboard to try then complain about the lack of keys...

 

Different people have different needs. I myself have a full sized keyboard and hardly use anything more than a 60% one.


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I have a TLK keyboard and I don't miss the numpad at all ... I was thinking about going 60% but I noticed that I use the insert, delete, end and home keys a lot along with the arrow keys.  I wish I could find a decent tlk without the top F row which for me is totally useless.  As for volume on keyboard I never saw the use for that and found it quite strange the first time I saw that on the family keyboard back in 1997 or 1998.  I have a separate amplifier with a big volume knob that is so smooth and satisfying to turn like Dmitry would say ... 


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I use full size, could get TKL though smaller, I don't like missing function row and Esc key. As well as PrtScr and all bellow keys. I can get being useful having smaller one for like larger mousepad and that, though otherwise why would I make my self use multiple keys all of sudden over single key for no other reason. I don't have super low mouse sensitivity so that it would helpvin ergonomics. I gueas TKL would suffice enough. 

Maybe they buy those customs and smaller ones to have more reason to press more mechanical switches. :P


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I'm a gamer and professional developer and also a long time 60% user and find them more functional than full size or TKL. I think using layers is better and faster because I can use all those same keys but now I don't need to reach for them. I just press a modifier and now it's right there under my fingers already.  Since mine is fully programmable I can have any feature a full sizes has plus 100 times more. I have several built in macros, on the fly macro recording and even mouse emulation.  

 

It just takes a little while to develop the new muscle memory and break the old one. It sounds like you haven't done this yet. 

 

12 hours ago, Chen G said:

The one I have can't do Ctrl+~, because ~ is fn+Esc, and Crtl+Esc ios Win, so whenever I try to do Ctrl+~ it brings up the start menu.

 

This is bad though. Mods like Ctrl, Alt, Shift, should not be changed by Fn. Sounds who ever made that thing wasn't thinking. 

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It's all different strokes for different folks. I'm like you. I'm having a ton of trouble using my old Model M without the Windows and context menu keys and guys out here are programming on a single Holy Panda switch with an Iron Man shaped keycap.

 

But hey, if they can do it good.

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I'm fine with a TKL, I mapped the page up and down buttons to volume (infinite scroll on mouse so don't need.). Works great :)


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I would like to go smaller than tkl cause I don't have much space on my desk ... it's a corner desk and the screen is in the corner ... was made for those deep crt monitor.  I'm afraid to regret my choice if I go 60% and I don't have the budget to buy 2 or 3 150$ keyboards ... I can't even afford one at that price. 


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Mines a corner desk too Dr0y, maybe make/buy a keyboard tray that's like 26-27" wide? Fits a TKL and a mouse perfect imho.


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Once you start using keyboard sizes below 75% or so, getting a fully programmable keyboard is essential, IMO. I've programmed similar layouts on all my 40% keyboards, so I rarely run into issues when I switch from one keyboard to another. As for the "why", it's nice to not have to move your fingers from the home row to type numbers and symbols (and it's fun to confuse people with my tiny keyboard)

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1 hour ago, Dr0y said:

I would like to go smaller than tkl cause I don't have much space on my desk ... it's a corner desk and the screen is in the corner ... was made for those deep crt monitor.  I'm afraid to regret my choice if I go 60% and I don't have the budget to buy 2 or 3 150$ keyboards ... I can't even afford one at that price. 

You can build a 60% for around $100. Why do you need 2 or 3 though?

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Just now, funkmon said:

And there's the real reason.

It started as that, but I really enjoy using my weird tiny keyboards. They're not for everyone though, and that's just fine

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1 minute ago, Teedacus said:

It started as that, but I really enjoy using my weird tiny keyboards. They're not for everyone though, and that's just fine

I believe it. :P. I just like the old fogey versus hipster dynamic between guys like me who prefer a 122 key board versus guys like you who use 11 keys and mind control.

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My desk is TINY. Smaller 60% keyboards are so much more compact, more usefulness out of each key - ergo, function row and numpad would be literally unused for me if I had a full-size - and it's easier to keep costs down when building a keyboard.

I wouldn't consider 60% minimalist, it's just a more compact form factor than TKL. There's 65% and 75% boards that bridge the gap between 60% and TKLs as well, it's preference.

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12 hours ago, IcarusLSC said:

Mines a corner desk too Dr0y, maybe make/buy a keyboard tray that's like 26-27" wide? Fits a TKL and a mouse perfect imho.

I had a keyboard tray and I removed it cause it was not comfortable to use and I had a hard time to game with it.  Maybe I'll reinstall it since I now have a tkl (had a full keyboard before) and a wireless mouse.  I'll seriously think about it. 

 

11 hours ago, geo3 said:

You can build a 60% for around $100. Why do you need 2 or 3 though?

100$ usd so about 130$ cad plus 15% taxes and shipping ... so around 150 $ for me

 

If I buy/make one and I don't like it I'll have to buy or make one in another size.  It's not that I need more than one but I might need to buy more than one.  I already have a tkl that I bought for 40$ cad to see if I would like the layout which I do.  The only problem is that it uses outemu blue and I don't like them so I'm trying to see if I could mod it for cheap while I'm saving money to buy a good quality board like a ducky or durgod for 140$.  Still not sure if I want it to be tkl or 60%.  If I buy it tkl I'm afraid that I would still wish to try 60% layout. 

 

It's really complicated for me to make a decision when it involve money I don't really need to spend and that I could use elsewhere. I kind of feel guilty to spoil myself.  That's why I have a hard time making a decision about those things.  Same goes for mouse or anything that is not that necessary. 

 

9 hours ago, sowon said:

There's 65% and 75% boards that bridge the gap between 60% and TKLs as well, it's preference.

I bought a qisan magicforce on ebay for 60$ cad with 65% layout.  It had the arrow keys along with del, insert, pgup and pgdown  (i saw that varmilo have the same layout).  I would have prefered home and end instead of the page up/down tho.   The board looked really good, but sadly they didn't sent me the one I wanted.  I bought with outemu brown but they sent me blue so I had to return it.  If they had sent me red instead I would have kept it for sure ... probably would have kept one with black switches too.  So now I'm waiting for it to arrive in china and for them to give my money back probably in one month.


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16 gig of G.Skill DDR3 at 1600 MHz 9-9-9-24

Asus Z97-A USB 3.0

Corsair HX 850 gold semi-modular PSU

Noctua NH-U12S with a second noctua NF-F12 fan
Antec 302 with stock antec 120mm and 140 mm as exhaust

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2x Noctua NF-S12A as intake

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GMMK tkl barebones with kailh speed copper and blank pbt dsa profile keycap. 

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Going from TKL to 60% is a whole new game, let alone going from full size. I went from full size to 60% and couldn't handle it. Returned and went to 65% and that became a very good mark for my needs. Unless you try and become very aware of what you are doing on the keyboard when using your full sized version, you won't know what is good for you or not until you try it. If calculator is a major thing for you, there's no running away from full size though. If being able to press F keys with a single button is a thing for your (for many mmo players it is), then TKL is the minimum you'll need. If you can't live without arrow keys, then 65% is the minimum. There are boards smaller than 60%, but that's beyond retard unless you are a collector. Then it is very reasonable to have absolutely anything you find cool for whatever reason.

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On 4/7/2020 at 7:05 AM, Dr0y said:

I have a TLK keyboard and I don't miss the numpad at all ... I was thinking about going 60% but I noticed that I use the insert, delete, end and home keys a lot along with the arrow keys.  I wish I could find a decent tlk without the top F row which for me is totally useless.  As for volume on keyboard I never saw the use for that and found it quite strange the first time I saw that on the family keyboard back in 1997 or 1998.  I have a separate amplifier with a big volume knob that is so smooth and satisfying to turn like Dmitry would say ... 

I think you would beinfit from a 65%- somthing like a massdrop alt would work great. You get arrow keys, and four keys you can program to your liking. Set them insert, delete, end and home, and you have exactly what you need. TKL without the F keys doesent really exist- people cut off the TKL before the F keys (the 70% and 75% form factors) 

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3 hours ago, thejaggerman said:

I think you would beinfit from a 65%- somthing like a massdrop alt would work great. You get arrow keys, and four keys you can program to your liking. Set them insert, delete, end and home, and you have exactly what you need. TKL without the F keys doesent really exist- people cut off the TKL before the F keys (the 70% and 75% form factors) 

Those massdrop keyboards looks awesome but quite pricey.

 

Yesterday I found that one ... quite hard to find here ... the drevo calibur ... tkl without the F row

https://www.newegg.ca/p/0GA-00VB-00058  

 

I also found a Vortex tab 60 that looks great and comes with mx cherry silent red.  It looks good and would probably be quiet enough for me. 

 

I think I found out why it was easier for me to type on my membrane keyboard than on my cheap redragon.  I think it's the keycaps profile.  The redragon have relatively high oem keycap profile.  I don't know what is the name of the profile of keycaps on my membrane keyboard but the caps seems to have the same height across de keyboard.  There's also the way it's positioned on the keyboard, kinda made like bleachers with a slight angle. 


I7 4770 non K

Sapphire nitro+ RX 590 SE

16 gig of G.Skill DDR3 at 1600 MHz 9-9-9-24

Asus Z97-A USB 3.0

Corsair HX 850 gold semi-modular PSU

Noctua NH-U12S with a second noctua NF-F12 fan
Antec 302 with stock antec 120mm and 140 mm as exhaust

1x Noctua NF-A12x15 as side exhaust

2x Noctua NF-S12A as intake

TeamGroup L5 3D Lite 1 Tb SSD

Toshiba DT01ADA200 2 Tb 7200 rpm 64mb cache

Logitech G305

GMMK tkl barebones with kailh speed copper and blank pbt dsa profile keycap. 

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4 hours ago, Dr0y said:

I think it's the keycaps profile.  The redragon have relatively high oem keycap profile.  I don't know what is the name of the profile of keycaps on my membrane keyboard but the caps seems to have the same height across de keyboard.  There's also the way it's positioned on the keyboard, kinda made like bleachers with a slight angle. 

Check out XDA and DSA profile cap sets. They are both low and uniform across rows.

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21 minutes ago, geo3 said:

Check out XDA and DSA profile cap sets. They are both low and uniform across rows.

Thanx a lot, I'll look for those.  Any brand suggested and place in particular to look for ?   I like pbt caps and I don't need shine through since I don't have any lights on my keyboard. 


I7 4770 non K

Sapphire nitro+ RX 590 SE

16 gig of G.Skill DDR3 at 1600 MHz 9-9-9-24

Asus Z97-A USB 3.0

Corsair HX 850 gold semi-modular PSU

Noctua NH-U12S with a second noctua NF-F12 fan
Antec 302 with stock antec 120mm and 140 mm as exhaust

1x Noctua NF-A12x15 as side exhaust

2x Noctua NF-S12A as intake

TeamGroup L5 3D Lite 1 Tb SSD

Toshiba DT01ADA200 2 Tb 7200 rpm 64mb cache

Logitech G305

GMMK tkl barebones with kailh speed copper and blank pbt dsa profile keycap. 

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27 minutes ago, Dr0y said:

Thanx a lot, I'll look for those.  Any brand suggested and place in particular to look for ?   I like pbt caps and I don't need shine through since I don't have any lights on my keyboard. 

I would lean towards XDA over DSA. DSA tend to be quite thin and cheep. There's also the more rare MDA profile, which is similar to XDA but is sculpted if you don't mind that. 

 

A bunch of places that sell caps:

https://kbdfans.com/

https://novelkeys.xyz/

https://www.aliexpress.com/

https://pimpmykeyboard.com/

https://kprepublic.com/

https://kono.store/

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On 4/7/2020 at 6:14 AM, Chen G said:

I got one of those 60% ones with blank keys to get a taste of the hype, while it looks really cool, it's just overall frustrating to use because the lack of keys.

Even simple things like not having a volume knob is annoying, obviously there's combination keys for volume but pressing a key repeatedly is never a good way to adjust volume, plus the finger acrobatics.

There is of course no numpad either which is terrible for when I have to use a calculator or something, or even just trainers for games, I know some of them allow you to use the number row instead but then those may conflict with in-game controls.

While I can handle a full blank keyboard, a non-standard board with invisible secondary functions is just so inconvenient, because sometimes I need to change settings like swap win and alt, but I can't remember how it's done cuz it's not written anywhere and there's no UI to do it either.

The worst part is with hotkeys in applications that are already combination keys, now you just have to press one more modifier, sounds fun right? From simple stuff like alt+F4 is now three keys with two modifiers on either side of the space bar. To complicated ones like alt+tab+delete, just the mental gymnastics of trying to figure out which keys to press is a challenge never mind actually doing it.

On top of that, you've got just a lack of keys like PrtScr, so what key do I use for screenshot? You can't use any of the function keys because that might conflict with the game, so you need a modifier and function key, again we've got a double modifier situation. 

Last but not least, you've got combinations that are for some reason impossible to pull of period. The one I have can't do Ctrl+~, because ~ is fn+Esc, and Crtl+Esc ios Win, so whenever I try to do Ctrl+~ it brings up the start menu.

 

Now I am sure some of these problems you can simply get used to it, but the problem is these keyboards aren't standard so if you get used to one of them, you still can't use anything else, or even the standard keyboard everyone else have. It's like learning an alternate keyboard layout, sure it may be very slightly faster in theory, but why would anyone bother to do that when it makes you unable to use the standard keyboard? At some point it's just not worth the investment. Even just at home I have a laptop for work and a desktop for gaming, what do I do? Get two of these 40% keyboards one for each computer? Not that I even want to use an external keyboard for my laptop because I like the built-in one and it lets me use the track pad instead of needing a mouse.

 

I just don't see how one would do it, unless maybe you have one computer for everything and you're always on it, never having to use anything else for significant amount of time, then it might make sense to try to learn one of these ultra minimalist keyboards, even then what for? So your desk can look more minimalist? Like yea I really get it these things are incredibly cool, I like them and I like putting them on my desk just to take photos, but the're just not very utilitarian.

I mean I have a TKL, could easily go smaller if I found the right keyboard. I have my system volume set to max and adjust the volume using the wheel on my headset so I don’t need to use any other volume control. I find them easier to type on cos the layout is closer to that of my MacBook which I use more than my desktop. I don’t use Excel anymore so I don’t need a numpad. Most of the addition keys are just a waste and can be controlled more conveniently elsewhere or by a Fn + shortcut (like print screen could just be Fn+P for example and wouldn’t interfere with your game as Fn isn’t mapped to anything usually). Honestly I just miss my Touch Bar when I’m away from my Mac. So useful. 


Dirty Windows Peasants :P ?

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